Everyone has a Financial Life

After some much needed time off, I’m back and, right off the bat, find myself wanting to write about something that came up during San Francisco’s Financial Planning Day, which happened on the 20th of last month (hello November! — it used to seem like you were a million miles away, and, by gosh, here you are already).

Financial Planning Days are a joint effort of the financial planning powers that be (the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, the Financial Planning Association, etc.) and various locales.

SF’s Financial Planning Day happens once a year, at UC Hastings College of the Law; the event is thoroughly imbued with the local financial planning powers that be (the FPA of San Francisco and the city’s very own Office of Financial Empowerment) (yes, EssEff CA does have such a thing, and I think it’s a great thing for the city to have, and, yes also, I’m fully aware that, to an Ayn-Randian sort, this office might sound like a very foolish thing, right up there with the over-the-top-Randian name for California’s sales tax authority, which is the Board of Equalization, a name with which even I have a hard time).

Going on at the same time that Saturday in nearby Civic Center plaza was some X-bike thing. Bikes flying to and fro’ all over the place (with the bike riders mostly, but not entirely, aboard for the flights). Tattoos everywhere. Lots of pot aromas filling the air. And all in the name of Mountain Dew. Ain’t the little city by the bay grand . . .

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So, picture, if you will, a big, ugly building (sorry, Hastings, but you don’t look mahhhhrvelous; you were built during the period of nearly-universally-ugly school building construction). And picture also, inside the big ugly building, a big, ugly room that’s full of planners and plannees, going on all day, with hundreds of 30-minute one-on-ones going on between planner and plannee, coupled with a steady stream of group presentations going on in the class rooms. The public is invited, and anyone can get a half hour of free financial planning advice from some excellent planners.

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I did a prezo on Intro to Financial Planning, and, like they say, and as is so true, you learn a lot by teaching.

My learning moment came at the beginning of my prezo, as, looking up into the classroom (it’s one of those amphitheater-type classrooms, in which the teacher area is as much as ten or fifteen lower than the student area), I decided then and there to wing it a bit on the first things I said.

And out of my mouth came, pretty much fully formed out of the unconscious, something I suspect I’ll be working into my language — something I am currently calling the Financial Planning Quasi-Syllogism (“quasi” in that it looks like a syllogism, but I suspect a logician would tell me it t’ain’t no such thing).

It goes like so:

  1. Everyone has a financial life.

  2. Everyone has done some of their own financial planing (because, inside of their financial lives, everyone makes decisions on a daily basis, virtually all of which have some future impact, and because making decisions that have some future impact is what financial planning is all about).

  3. Just about everyone could use some help being smarter in their financial life as they go about doing their own financial planning.

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Sound basic? Elementary? I agree, but I also think there’s something here that’s worth thinking about — both for me as a professional, as I go about helping people smarten-up in their financial lives, and for you, reader, and everyone else as well, as you go about living inside your financial life, doing your own financial planning, and hopefully finding this quasi-syllogism language useful when you’re thinking about how to be happier in your financial life and/or when you’re considering getting some help in this part of your life.

Consider, then, the FP quasi-syllogism as a work in progress. I’ll keep you posted on how the language morphs and filters through my work.

Until then, know this: you are doing your very own financial planning. How’s it going for you?

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Two other thoughts, one about FP Day and the other about the first statement of the three statements that make up the quasi-syllogism:

   1. FP Day Thought. A room full of planners is, for me anyway, a fun room to be in (I did not usually feel this way when in a room full of lawyers).

  2. Poking and Prodding the First Statement of the Quasi-Syllogism. For years I’ve been looking for a good example of someone who, in modern times, did *not* have a financial life. The best example I’ve come across is Christopher McCandless, the true life subject of the book and very excellent movie, Into the Wildwho, as a young man, moved to a remote part of Alaska without much in the way of survival skills, carrying with him just 10 pounds of rice and a rifle with some ammo and a few personal possessions, and who appears to have died not soon thereafter from lack of food coupled with a fateful decision to eat some poisonous berries.

When his remains were found, the searchers also found $300 in Christopher’s wallet — three hundred totally, utterly, irretrievably useless dollars, because Christopher had, indeed, stepped out of his financial life and altogether out of the financial world, thereby rendering, as applied to Christopher, the first statement of the quasi-syllogism untrue.

Out in the middle of nowhere in Alaska, then, the financial planner/plannee in all of us had best spend time smartening up about berries. For the rest of us, it’s dollars that bring us the food we eat, and smartening up about the dollars parts of our lives is way, Way, WAY worthwhile. If, that is, you like eating food.

889 words (about a nine-minute read, sans linked content)


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